Interpretation Commentary Series

Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, published by Westminster John Knox Press, has been a popular academic resource for pastors and teachers for decades. [1] The series, which covers Old and New Testament books, is complete. The first volumes appeared in the early 1980’s and the final volumes appeared in the early 2000’s. There are 43 mid-size commentaries in the set.

interpretation bible commentary
Cover design of Old and New Testament volumes

Commentaries in the Interpretation series are known for their theological reflection and discussion of biblical themes. Volumes are not technical in relation to the original languages of Scripture, so readers who have not been trained in Hebrews and Greek will not be hindered, and exegesis is not a central aim of the series. Authors use the Revised Standard Version and the New Revised Standard Version as the basis for their comments.

The Interpretation series does not intend to meet every need of the reader, but focuses on Scripture, history, and theology. “These volumes will not replace the historical critical commentary or homiletical aids to preaching,” writes the editors in the Series Preface. “The purpose of this series is rather to provide a third kind of resources, a commentary which presents the integrated result of historical and theological work with the biblical text.” [2]

Generally, commentaries in the Interpretation series take a moderately-critical approach to Scripture. Authors come from a variety of denominations, but share the goal of discussing the meaning of the text for the usefulness of the Church.

Please see how the Interpretation series compares to dozens of other commentary series on the Bible Commentaries Comparison Chart.

Example Reviews of the Interpretation Commentary Series

interpretation commentary
Paperback editions have recently been made available

Walter Brueggemann’s Genesis commentary is one of the most well-reviewed volumes in the series. From the review in Trinity Journal of Brueggemann’s Genesis commentary:

“The narratives in the book of Genesis are exciting stories from first to last, but we tend to lose some of that excitement either by reading too narrowly or by knowing the stories so well that the dramatic tension withers away. One of the strong points of Brueggemann’s commentary is that he is able to make these stories come alive for the reader. Brueggemann is an able and insightful storyteller, often creating in the reader a new fascination for the text.” [3]

Another of the most highly-praised volumes is Richard B. Hays’ 1 Corinthians commentary. From the review in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society on Hays’ 1 Corinthians commentary:

“…for unpacking the meaning of the text, Hays’s contribution serves its purpose and readers well. It achieves that difficult balance of addressing the essential issues and problems without bogging down those whose interests or expertise will not allow them to work through highly technical debates. The book has no footnotes and only occasional references in the text to other resources, though Hays’s comments show his interaction with the research and literature—both ancient and modern—on the letter.” [4]

Commentaries in the Interpretation Series

New Testament Volumes

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Matthew – Douglas R. A. Hare | Published: 1993

Mark – Lamar Williamson, Jr. | Published: 1983

Luke – Fred B. Craddock | Published: 1990

John – Gerard Sloyan | Published: 1988

Acts – William H. Willimon | Published: 1988

Romans – Paul Achtemeier | Published: 1985

First Corinthians – Richard B. Hays | Published: 1997

Second Corinthians – Ernest Best | Published: 1987

Galatians – Charles B. Cousar | Published: 1982

Ephesians, Colossians and Philemon – Ralph P. Martin | Published: 1991

Philippians – Fred B. Craddock | Published: 1985

First and Second Thessalonians – Beverly Roberts Gaventa | Published: 1998

First & Second Timothy and Titus – Thomas C. Oden | Published: 1989

Hebrews – Thomas G. Long | Published: 1997

First & Second Peter, James and Jude – Pheme Perkins | Published: 1995

First, Second & Third John – D. Moody Smith | Published: 1991

Revelation – M. Eugene Boring | Published: 1989

Old Testament Volumes

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Genesis – Walter Brueggemann | Published: 1982

Exodus – Terence E. Fretheim | Published: 1991

Leviticus – Samuel E. Balentine | Published: 2002

Numbers – Dennis T. Olson | Published: 1996

Deuteronomy – Patrick D. Miller | Published: 1990

Joshua – Jerome F.D. Creach | Published: 2002

Judges – J. Clinton McCann | Published: 2002

Ruth – Katharine Doob Sakenfeld | Published: 1999

First and Second Samuel – Walter Brueggemann | Published: 1990

First and Second Kings – Richard D. Nelson | Published: 1987

First and Second Chronicles – Steven S. Tuell | Published: 2001

Ezra & Nehemiah – Mark A. Throntveit | Published: 1992

Esther – Carol M. Bechtel | Published: 2002

Job – J. Gerald Janzen | Published: 19825

Psalms – James Luther Mays | Published: 1994

Proverbs – Leo G. Perdue | Published: 2000

Ecclesiastes – William P. Brown | Published: 2000

Song of Songs – Robert W. Jenson | Published: 2005

Isaiah: Chapters 1-39 – Christopher R. Seitz | Published: 1993

Isaiah: Chapters 40-66 – Paul D. Hanson | Published: 1995

Jeremiah – R. E. Clements | Published: 1988

Lamentations – F. W. Dobbs-Allsopp | Published: 2002

Ezekiel – Joseph Blenkinsopp | Published: 1990

Daniel – W. Sibley Towner | Published: 1984

Hosea to Micah – James Limburg | Published: 1988

Nahum to Malachi – Elizabeth Achtemeier | Published: 1986


Footnotes:

  1. https://worship.calvin.edu/resources/resource-library/how-to-choose-a-bible-commentary/
  2. The “Series Preface” can be found in any volume in the set.
  3. Longman, T. Source: Trinity Journal, 4 no 1 Spr 1983, p 100-103. (subscription required)
  4. Klein, William W. Source: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 43 no 1 Mar 2000, p 149-152. (subscription required)